Speaking in the European affairs debate in the House of Commons yesterday, John Redwood called for democracy to apply to the United Kingdom and pressed the Government to hold the referendum on the European Constitution, otherwise known as the Lisbon Treaty, that they promised in their last manifesto. John also said the Shadow Foreign Secretary should send message to countries that haven’t yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty, such as Poland, asking them to hold off on ratification until a future Conservative Government has the opportunity to put the treaty to the British people in a referendum.
The full text of John’s contributions, taken from Hansard, now follows:
Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The Foreign Secretary mentioned democracy: may we have some in Europe? Why do the Irish have to vote again, when their verdict was very clear? Why cannot we have a vote in Britain? And what did he not understand about the Eurosceptic majority in the European elections?
David Miliband: I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has brought me on to this topic, because there is unfinished institutional business in the European Union. Since the Irish people voted no in their referendum on the Lisbon treaty on 12 June last year, the Irish Government have been deciding on their next move. In December, the European Council agreed, on the basis of Irish proposals, that the EU would give Ireland the legal guarantees it wanted on the issues of concern to its electorate. In December, as the Prime Minister reported to the House, the European Council conclusions set out what the Irish guarantees will cover—no change in EU competence on tax; no prejudice to national security and defence policy; and guarantees on provisions in the Irish constitution on the right to life. The December conclusions also record the high importance attached to the issues, including workers’ rights.
There are now detailed Irish proposals for these commitments to be agreed as legal guarantees, for a declaration by the European Council on workers’ rights and social policy, and for a national declaration by Ireland. We are assessing these texts against the two objectives that we have consistently set out to Parliament and to EU partners. The first is to ensure that the Lisbon treaty comes into force on the basis of support in all 27 member states. To do that, the EU collectively has to address the concerns of the Irish people to the mutual satisfaction of Ireland and other member states. The second is to ensure that the content of the Lisbon treaty as it affects the UK is not changed.
Mr. Redwood: I am grateful to the shadow Foreign Secretary for giving way. Will he use this opportunity to send a message to countries that have not yet ratified the Lisbon treaty? The message is that a future Conservative Government would hold an immediate referendum, and that the British people would be very likely to veto the treaty for them—so countries should hang on and not ratify, to give us the chance to do what they want us to do.
Mr. Hague: Those countries must make their own decisions; it is not for us to dictate to them what their decision must be. However, my right hon. Friend is correct in his description of the situation. The Lisbon treaty referendum, which all parties promised at the last general election, will certainly be implemented if the treaty remains unratified and is still on the table at the time of the next general election.